The Bojan brain twister

by Dylan Fahy

Bojan Krikic Perez’s senior career to date has been one of unfulfilled promise and many many substitute appearances. He was supposed to be the next big thing. Boasting 900 goals at youth level the pressure was always going to be on, as he was picked up by the Catalan side at the age of nine. As well as comparisons to team-mate Lionel Messi, being a quick diminutive striker with exceptional dribbling skills. He also beat Messi’s records of youngest ever La Liga player and scorer.

Bojan was born to a Serbian father and a Spanish mother, but chose to play for Spain at international level. His father was also a professional football, playing for Red Star Belgrade. Barcelona picked him up in 1999, and eight years later he signed a professional contract, at the age of 17. After just one season in the Barcelona B team.

Over the last four years in Barcelona the ‘Baby-Faced Striker’ has been unable to nail down a regular place. Despite amazing performances for Spanish national teams at Under-17 and Under-21 level the Barca first team has been beyond reach. His small size and lack of physical presence up-front has always been Bojan’s main problem. When he comes on the attack always looks weaker and lacks confidence, for that reason he has never fully broken into the first team. Although forty-one goals in one hundred and sixty-three appearances is not half bad.

The 4-3-3 formation Barca play has never favorited him either, as well as the emergence of fellow Spaniard Pedro Rodriguez. With David Villa and Lionel Messi making up the front three, the Spanish press dubbed the attack ‘MVP’. There will be even fewer places now that Alexis Sanchez’s move from Udinese has been confirmed. This season has been especially hard, as goals have been few and far between compared to earlier seasons.

The general consensus is that Bojan was moved up too quickly. Many Barca youth players spend years in the second team gaining valuable experience, that Bojan never got. He was never loaned out to get the minutes he desperately needs, that the Barca first team can’t give him anymore. A move has also very probable after his dad, Bojan Krkic Sr., left his scouting position at Barca.

The writing has been on the wall for a while.

Luis Enrique’s Spanish revolution at Roma came calling, an offer that suited perfectly. Since Enrique speaks Spanish and already coached Bojan at Barcelona B.

After weeks of negotiating Bojan finally completed his move from Barca to Roma, in a very complicated way. An initial fee of €12 million was paid, but in two years time Barca have to activate a buy-back clause that costs €13 million, but Roma can block the buy-back by paying a further €28 million.

There has been much debate on the merits of the move for both sides. Essentially Roma are making a million for taking Bojan in on loan, although they have to pay his wages (a reported €6 million) . The fact that Barca will have to buy-back the forward is very interesting. All of this means Bojan is valued at €40 million.

Bojan made some very strange comments in his final press conference for Barca, that might make a move back difficult:

Not playing the Champions League final twice in a row is one of my reasons for leaving, that hurt me a lot. Guardiola is the best coach in the world, but of course I don’t agree with some of the decisions he has made.

Guardiola refused to respond to those quotes this week when confronted by the Spanish press. Many doubt that Bojan will ever make it back while Guardiola is in charge at Barca, and it is a common belief that Bojan fell out with the Barca head coach. Guardiola wanted him to stay in Barca B for longer, but he refused.

The next question is whether Bojan will start. It looks likely that Enrique will copy Barca by playing with three up top. He probably doesn’t have enough power to lead the line. So that leaves the two wide positions. Since Jeremy Menez’s move to PSG was confirmed yesterday, a space has opened up. It all hinges on whether Mirko Vucinic moves or not, with reports Juventus, Manchester United and Tottenham are all interested. When fit, Francesco Totti will also start, along with Marco Borreillo. New signing Erik Lamela will also be vying for a place.

It’s safe to say Bojan will play, but I personally don’t feel he will be the first name on the team-sheet. The Giallorossi faithful will quickly get on Bojan’s back if he doesn’t score, he could end up moving from one bench to another.

Everything depends on how well Bojan performs, in two years time he might be worth the extra money. If he lived up to his initial potential he would be in the Barca shirt. The fact is he has time of his side. Finding a player that has four years of professional experience under belt at the age of 20 and has played at one of the best teams of all time is very unique.

9 Responses

  1. Tim says:

    NINE HUNDRED goals at youth level?!

    I really, really like Bojan – you have to feel a certain amount of sympathy for someone so obviously talented at such a young, who at most other top clubs wouldn’t have to compete with the best player in the world and the meteoric rise of Pedro.

    I’d argue that Bojan is more creative and technically gifted than Pedro, but he doesn’t have the same tireless physical or bullish mental attributes of the latter which explains Guardiola’s preference.

    But regardless, Roma have surely got a decent deal out of this – there’s no way they’ll pay nearly 30m euros for him between now and the end of the loan deal, but a chance for Bojan to cement a place in a top team in a top European league may well end up benefiting all three parties.

  2. Camelonkey says:

    excellent overview,,,just shows the excess of talent at Barcelona,,,,is there really room for Fabregas ???

    1. Pep says:

      No.
      He’s a luxury item.
      And expensive sub.

      Of course, with the addition of Sanchez up front and Thiago being the IT thing of the moment, the only way Cesc will get on the bench might be if he has the backup keepers gloves.

      The Thiago buzz right now is like Pedro and Bojan and Messi at their start.

  3. Fulop says:

    Bojan has so much promise when he first came into the Barcelona team in 2007. He was supposed to be the ‘new Messi’. Of course, since he’s still only 20, he’s still has a great while to go and can still shine at Roma.

    It’s quite funny because Pedro seems to have taken the role that Bojan was supposed to take. 2 years ago, Pedro was a virtual unknown (at least to non-Barcelona fans) who was probably less talented than Bojan, but he’s quickly taken over and has consistently held his spot.

  4. Manny says:

    The legend was the Bojan had scored 1000 goals through the youth ranks. Rijkaard did bring Bojan up too early which is not mentioned by many if any. There is a certain sense of entitlement that Bojan possesses but there is no denying the works hard and has tremendous skill. Pedro’s blossoming and the string of untimely injuries hurt Bojan’s progress. He most certainly should have stayed in Barca B but those were different times. Unfortunately, I think Bojan can only truly flourish in the Barcelona system so his entire career may never truly reach its potential. Barcelona will not make the same mistake with Deulofeu.

    1. Pep says:

      Unfortunately, I think Bojan can only truly flourish in the Barcelona system so his entire career may never truly reach its potential.

      They say the same thing about Messi.

    2. Varun says:

      Disagree on Bojan only flourishing at Barca.
      His playing stlye in fact isn’t suited to current system.
      He’s good at as a drifter, not someone whos supposed to be part of buildup play and track back and press.

      Agree about Rjikard bringing him too early.

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